How to Build a Laminate Counter


Installing a laminate countertop can be an easy and affordable way to upgrade the look of your kitchen or bathroom. Laminate countertops provide a durable, attractive, and budget-friendly alternative to more expensive countertop materials like granite or quartz. With some basic DIY skills and the right tools, you can install a laminate countertop yourself over a weekend. This guide will walk you step-by-step through the process of how to build a laminate counter for your home improvement project.

Benefits of Laminate Countertops

There are many benefits that make laminate a popular countertop choice:

  • Cost – Laminate countertops are one of the most budget-friendly options, costing a fraction of natural stone or solid surface countertops.
  • Durability – Modern laminates are very durable and resistant to scratches, stains, heat, and impact. The layered construction makes them last for years.
  • Easy Maintenance – Laminate surfaces just need occasional cleaning with soap and water to keep looking new. No need for sealing or polishing like natural stone.
  • Design Options – Laminates come in endless color, pattern and texture options to fit any kitchen or bath design style. Matte finishes provide a natural look.
  • DIY Installation – Pre-fabricated laminate countertops can be installed as a DIY project without professional help. This saves on installation costs.

For these reasons, laminate remains a budget-friendly and practical option for many homeowners. The steps below will show you how to successfully install your own laminate countertop.

How to Build a Laminate Counter

Step 1: Measure and Order Countertop

The first step is to carefully measure the length, width, and any interior corners of the base cabinets where the laminate countertop will be installed. Include the overhang distance you want beyond the cabinet front and sides. Standard overhang is 1 inch on the front and sides.

Once you have exact measurements, order your prefabricated laminate countertop from a home improvement store or online supplier. Provide them with your measurements and select the laminate color, edges, and other options.

Make sure to order your sink and cooktop cutouts based on the specific models you’ll be installing. The supplier will custom cut and pre-drill the countertop prior to shipping.

Ordering a few days in advance provides time for the custom fabrication. Pick up the countertops yourself or schedule delivery shortly before installation day.

Step 2: Gather Materials and Tools Needed

To install your new laminate countertops, you’ll need the following supplies:


  • Laminate countertop pieces
  • Wooden shims for support
  • Trim molding for edges
  • Silicone caulk and sealant


  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Utility knife
  • Jigsaw (for sink/cooker cutouts)
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Carpenters square
  • Router (for edging)
  • denatured alcohol
  • Clean rags

Safety Equipment:

  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask
  • Work gloves

Gather all materials and tools needed before starting installation.

Step 3: Preparing the Cabinets

The existing base cabinets that will support the new laminate countertops must be level, secure, and clean:

  • Use a carpenter’s level tool on the cabinets to check for level. Shim any unlevel cabinets as needed.
  • Make sure cabinets are securely fastened to wall studs and each other.
  • Clean cabinet tops thoroughly removing any grease, debris and dust.

Proper cabinet prep prevents issues down the road after countertops are installed.

Step 4: Cut Outlets for Sink and Cooktop

If your laminate countertop has pre-cutouts for the sink and cooktop, you can skip this step.

Otherwise, carefully measure and mark the sink and cooktop cutout sizes on the underside of the countertop. Use a jigsaw to cut out the openings staying just inside the lines.

Make small cutouts for any soap dispensers or other items to be mounted in the counter later.

Safety tip: Wear eye protection when using the jigsaw to cut laminate.

Step 5: Run Edging Strip (Optional)

For a finished look, you can run iron-on edging or router trim molding around all exposed front and side edges of the countertop.

To apply iron-on edging:

  • Heat edging strip with an iron following product directions
  • Press hot edging strip onto counter edges, trimming excess
  • Use roller to smooth out edging tightly

To rout edges:

  • Clamp trim molding guide to edge, set router to correct depth
  • Rout molding profile along edges with router and flush trim bit
  • Nail or glue trim strips to edges

Edging finishes the rough laminate edges for a streamlined finished look.

Step 6: Position Countertops and Shim

Now you’re ready to set the countertop pieces in place:

  • Lift each section and place gently on cabinet bases.
  • Push against wall and level front overhang.
  • Use carpenter’s square to check corners for square.
  • Shim with wooden shims to adjust level and fill any gaps.
  • Dry fit pieces and make any adjustments before final secure.

Work slowly and safely since countertops are heavy and awkward. Get help lifting if needed.

Step 7: Secure Countertops

With the laminate countertops positioned and shimmed, adhere them securely in place:

  • Pre-drill holes through the counter top and into the underlying cabinets.
  • Drive 3-4″ screws through the pre-drilled holes using a power drill.
  • Only screw into wall studs at ends, not just drywall. Use molly bolts if needed.
  • Apply silicone caulk along all seams and let dry completely.

Securing the tops to the cabinet bases keeps them from shifting or lifting up.

Step 8: Seal Edges

Once secured, seal all remaining exposed edges using silicone caulk. This prevents moisture damage.

Run a bead of caulk along the seam where the countertop meets the wall. Seal where the backsplash and counter meet as well.

Use caulk to fill any gaps or holes. Let the caulk fully cure for 24-48 hours.

Step 9: Install the Sink and Cooktop

With the countertop base fully installed, you can now install your sink and cooktop:

For a drop-in sink:

  • Set the sink in place and trace the outline onto the counter.
  • Use a jigsaw to cut along the traced line to create the sink cutout.
  • Set sink in place and seal edges with caulk.

For an undermount sink:

  • Position and clamp sink below the counter hole.
  • Drill pilot holes and drive sink mounting screws into underside of counter to secure sink.

To install a cooktop:

  • Lower cooktop into the pre-cut opening.
  • Attach mounting brackets lined up with mounting holes.
  • Attach cooktop to brackets by driving screws up through the bottom.

Make sure sinks and cooktops are securely mounted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 10: Install Backsplash (Optional)

Adding a backsplash protects your walls and completes the kitchen. For laminate backsplash:

  • Measure space between counter and cabinets.
  • Cut laminate sheets to fit using utility knife or jigsaw.
  • Dry fit pieces before peeling off adhesive backing.
  • Press in place sticking firmly to wall.

Caulk around edges for watertight seal. Let cure fully before use.


How long does it take to install a laminate countertop?

For an experienced DIYer, a typical straight laminate countertop installation takes 8-10 hours:

  • 1 hour: Preparation and cabinet cleaning
  • 2 hours: Cutting sink and cooktop openings
  • 2 hours: Positioning, shimming and securing countertops
  • 1 hour: Sealing edges and caulking
  • 2-3 hours: Installing sinks, cooktop, and backsplash
  • 1 hour: Cleanup

What tools do I need to install laminate countertops?

The basic tools needed are a tape measure, pencil, table saw or jigsaw, router, drill, screws, caulk gun, shims, carpenter’s square, and safety gear like goggles and gloves. Useful extras tools include an iron for edging and a brad nailer.

How do you cut laminate countertops?

Use a circular saw or jigsaw to cut laminate countertops. For straight cuts, score through the laminate top layer with a utility knife, then use a saw. For sink cutouts, drill holes at the corners and jigsaw along the traced lines. Make test cuts first and go slowly to avoid chipping.

Do you have to seal laminate countertops?

Laminate does not require sealing since the resin surface resists stains and damage. However, you should caulk all seams and edges where the counter meets walls, backsplash, and around the sinks to prevent moisture getting in and damaging the substrate.

What’s better laminate or quartz countertops?

Quartz counters are better for durability and resisting scratches and heat. But laminate costs much less. Laminate installation is also easier as a DIY project. It depends on your budget and needs. For a low-maintenance option, laminate is a decent alternative.


Installing laminate countertops can modernize a kitchen or bath with a stylish, durable surface at a reasonable cost. Pre-fabricated tops make the installation straightforward for DIYers with basic skills. Careful measuring, pre-drilling, proper shimming, and edge caulking are key steps for success. Follow the countertop manufacturer’s instructions closely. Soon you can enjoy an upgraded room with beautiful new countertops.